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Train Accidents Caused By Ignored Safety Precautions

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued recommendations to address the problems that led to two railroad accidents last year. The accidents occurred in Michigan and Illinois last year. The accident in Illinois, which occurred in February of last year, killed a woman who was driving when she collided with the train. According to the NTSB, both accidents were caused by railroad workers failing to follow required safety precautions.

The two accidents involved Amtrak trains. In the Illinois collision, the gate arms were raised and the warning lights had been turned off, giving the driver no warning that a train was coming to the intersection. The Michigan crash involved a train that derailed because it was travelling on the wrong track. A reversed switch had placed the train on the wrong track and the subsequent derailment injured 14 people.

Both accidents were tied to mistakes in signal maintenance operations. The recommendations made are intended to address improper use of jumper wires while conducting maintenance and repairs. The warnings that would normally prevent accidents such as these had been disabled while railroad workers conducted repairs. The NTSB wants railroad employees to be provided with the best practices involved in using jumper wires while signal maintenance operations are performed on active railroad tracks

The NTSB recommendations will now go to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. The groups will have a 90-day period in which to respond.

Source: Peoria Journal Star, "NTSB issues recommendations after 2 railroad accidents," 9 March 2013

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